This past week I tweeted a quick drill without going too far in depth into why we do the drill and what it is for. I use this drill for pitchers and position players of all ages every day in my lessons. It works so well that I wanted to share it with all our readers in hopes that it will make your (or your son/daughter’s) delivery safer and more effective. Hope you enjoy!
In the video below I explain the first of three phases of the Band Separation Drill. A good arm swing starts right out of the glove. It is involved with the first initial movement of the lower half momentum. As the lower half drives toward the target, the throwing arm should be relaxed out of the glove.
The reason I use the band is to allow my brain and body to work together. Use the tension of the band to allow the body to do most of the work. You do not necessarily want to PULL the band into position.
The reason for a more consistent arm swing, and why we want to integrate a proper sequence of movements, is to maintain a healthy and effective delivery. We want to avoid teaching cues like show the ball to center fielder and point the glove to the target because these cues make the player’s hands break away from each other which leads to unhealthy and uneffective timing flaws. For example, pitchers that have these tend to have their head/trunk very forward too early in the delivery.
The photos above are of Carter Capps pitching for the Marlins before he was traded to the San Diego Padres. Capps received Tommy John Surgery in March of 2015 and needed surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome this offseason. They hope he will be back for 2108 spring training but he is a huge question mark for a return to full health. Capps was one of the most promising young pitchers of the game at one point but poor mechanics have hurt him. WHY? You can see above that he points his glove right to the target and tries to hide the ball on his backside. There is no arm swing involved with this delivery. He also does a crazy leap forward off of the mound, which puts him in a very bad spot at foot strike. His elbow is above his shoulder with his upper body forward over his belt. This type of delivery is bad because he never allows his posture to change to continue his shoulders to rotate properly toward the target. The next part of the drill goes into how proper posture change leads to an efficient position at front foot strike.
Drill Part 2: Shoulder Separation with Posture Change
Drill Part 3: Rotation into Ball Release
40 Minute Fix
Please comment below, email me firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @Dshinbone15 or @BRrebellion with any questions about this drill!
Want the bands that Dave is using in this drill? Check out our store to purchase the bands!
A clean and consistent “Arm-Swing” is crucial to the health and longevity of any thrower.Through hours of video analysis, studying various drills, and looking at various patterns the best pitchers of all time we have determined the most efficient arm swing happens when the throwing hand falls out of the glove staying relaxed into the arm swing.
Maintaining the highest level of consistency throughout a pitchers career is the biggest part of being able to repeat a healthy delivery. One of the vital components the Baseball Rebellion throwing program is to make each individual excellent at playing a simple game catch.If you can become consistent throwing a baseball within your individual throwing program, there is no reason you shouldn’t be consistent off the mound. We can become better throwers instantly once we understand the value of repeating our arm action and understand how the arm works.
One of the most valuable components of our program is teaching a student to build a consistently repeatable arm swing in their delivery. The arm swing is the path a pitcher’s hand or arm takes as he brings the ball out of his glove and eventually into the acceleration of the throw. Characteristics of a well-executed arm swing are, how the arm extends out of the glove as one piece. This is properly done when performing the M part of the drill. The arm should stay relaxed with no added tension or stress as it moves through the throw. Your hand will extend upwards into a rotation. Towards 3B for RHP and towards 1B for LHP into the E phase of the drill. The arm swing matches the momentum of the body. The arm should rotate with the shoulders to provide and consistent ball release which is the W part of the drill. The arm swing can be long or short but it has to match the movement of the lower half.
The concept of the MEW drill is simple and effective to all throwers. It is done in the mirror using a Wilson tennis racket. Follow the steps and start to complete a more efficient and healthy arm action. I hope you enjoy the drill video below and the examples of both youth and professional throwers emulating this technique.
M E W
(Throw was after doing the MEW Drill with racquet)
This is a drill that helps activate the hips and create awareness of how to use your lower half into a throw. Some kids have trouble with the movement shown in this video. Simply learning how to properly rotate your hips into a throw will help promote natural velocity gains.
The rear hip generates force toward the target which should open up the front side. I see kids struggle with this drill when trying to increase speed, so start off slow. Make sure you pay attention to not letting your upper half fly open when rotating the hips toward the target.
This is a three part drill. When done correctly this drill can increase hip mobility and create better separation when front foot lands. Baseball Rebellion promotes front foot heel landing so the glute can fire instantly to allow a proper brace up of the front leg, which will create more velocity on your throws by allow your hips to clear. Increase the intensity of the drill as you feel more comfortable with the movements to maximize arm speed.
I hope this drill helps activate your hips and teaches you how to properly rotate the lower half through a throw. Try it out, comment below with any questions or thoughts on the Hip Activation Drill.
Masahiro Tanaka is struggling in his last 4 starts of the 2017 season. Baseball Rebellion breaks down his pitching mechanics and gives insight on Tanaka’s troubles. He throws a four and two-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and a nasty split-finger. Tanaka was an All-Star his first Major League season in 2014. Much of his success has come from throwing low is the zone and mixing up his fastball and off speed. He is having to throw more fastballs this year and he is leaving balls up and over the plate. In this breakdown, I mention that these balls left over the plate can be due to a lack of efficiency with his hips and his front leg bracing up. Split-finger fastballs put tremendous stress on the elbow when thrown. This can also be a case of having to throw more fastballs because of his partially torn UCL that was never repaired. Either way, Masahiro has a few things to fix mechanically or he will continue to struggle. Thanks for watching this week’s pitching breakdown.
If you are interested in having your swing broke down by Dave, click here!
The most common problem I see in both online and in person evaluations is a lack of body awareness through the throwing delivery. Many kids are seemingly taught to just lift their leg and then throw. There is a gap in instruction on how the lower and upper body should properly be used together. These teaching patterns persist for one reason; parents and coaches were never taught proper throwing mechanics themselves.
Why Do Kids Throw Sidearm?
The number one reason why kids throw sidearm is their shoulder rotation is on a horizontal plane instead of a directional plane toward the target. Horizontal rotation happens because young throwers are trying to hit a target by simply aiming and, by doing so, stop the rotation of their shoulders and trunk. The arms follow the path of the shoulders toward the target causing the throwing arm to move away from target while struggling to maintain a consistent arm path.
Fixing The Pattern
The quickest way to transform a poor throwing motion is to gain control of upper body movements. Additionally, the more the player embraces the difference in the feeling of how to control their arms together the faster the changes happen. When teaching repeatable movements I focus on the player using more of his or her body to propel the arm forward. We train the player to allow their arms to move around the head and instead of letting their shoulders fly open. Teaching players to allow their body body to move purposefully significantly increases accuracy and velocity.
Nathan G. Before
These videos are about a year and half apart. The video above is of 10 year Nathan G. throwing sidearm from 46ft. Nathan is now 12 years old and pitches from 50 and 60ft. The movement changes we made with both his lower half and Directional Rotational are clear in the video below. He now has the confidence to be the player we knew he can be thanks to his hard work.
Nathan G. After
Drills To Help Directional Rotation
A better timing pattern of movements is the key to having and efficient and fluid delivery. Flying open with the front side is usually related to a delayed trigger. A common reason associated with a delayed trigger is “Sitting Into The Back Leg.” This does not allow the body to be properly synced from the start. A proper back leg drive starts the chain of better movements. Keeping your shoulders closed, through the initial drive and into front foot strike, will help create a more repeatable throwing motion. This also creates a “rubber band” effect in the body that is called Hips to Shoulder Separation.
This is the position evident in all hard throwers when their front foot hits the ground. Training the brain to work with the body in order to hold on to this feeling until the shoulders are ready to release is another key factor in avoiding throwing sidearm. Staying committed to a constant flow of energy from lower half drive into proper shoulder and truck rotation, while staying connected to the mound, can be learned with proper repetition. At Baseball Rebellion, we have a variety of drills to help throwers learn how to feel this movement. Below are few basic and effective drills to introduce consistent positive movement dynamics.
Focus is the Key
The best part about learning these patterns is they do not have to be done with a ball. Starting out by learning to concentrate on repeating the throwing motion, by using more core strength, will create a more whip-like in the arm allowing the player to stay strong through the entire motion. Focus is key when trying to feel the changes happening in your delivery. The younger you can start a player working these drills with tempo and consistency, the more it will pay off in the long run. I hope you enjoyed my article, thank you for reading. Please leave your comments below.
Dave Shinskie – Baseball Rebellion Head Pitching Instructor
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There is a common misconception that “pushing off the rubber” helps pitchers throw faster. Many pitching instructors still teach this flawed use of this lower half energy, where the back knee/ankle stay back and refuse to drive with the hips.
Tim Lincecum was know for his stride length. He threw the ball extremely hard for his size, but was not sustainable in the the Big Leagues due to the timing issues created by his initial drive down the mound. In this Gif you can see Lincecum’s back leg stay back, which leads him to get far away from the rubber because of the push off. Therefor, his arm fails to get up into the 90 degree position at front foot strike.
The easy fix for this miscue is to create a strong first move and sustain the tension in the core muscles down the mound. Learning to use the lower half correctly is a huge advantage to help your delivery feel smooth and strong. Driving the hips, back knee, and ankle together is crucial to start to see velocity gains. The chain of energy that is transferred at front foot strike through the throw is begins with the linear back leg drive. In this video I explain a drill that will help create efficient back leg/ hip drive and promote strength through the core. The Prowler Pulls will help gain velocity in pitching by using weight and tension to let your body know if it is moving optimally.
The Gifs below are great examples of how to use the lower half
Use the Prowler Pulls to develop an elite lower half. The first move of the delivery is the the most important part of creating the most efficient transfer of energy through the baseball throw. There are many drills you can do to help back leg and hip drive on our site, so check out more of Baseball Rebellion’s pitching articles to help guide you to a better delivery.
Have you ever wondered how to use the front half of your body properly through your pitching delivery? In this Baseball Rebellion article I explain the optimal way to use your glove side to avoid injury with a healthy and smooth follow through. First though, I want to show you what NOT to teach when it comes front side pitching / throwing mechanics. In the video clip below, the two players are told to finish with the glove staying in front of the body which inhibits the shoulders from completing rotation. Completing rotation is important in regards to arm health because violently stopping rotation puts unnecessary stress on your posterior shoulder musculature.
These glove side mechanics have been taught in baseball and softball for the past 30 years and it’s just now coming to light that it’s NOT the safest or most efficient way to finish the throw. Arm injuries are at an all time high, across all levels of baseball, because of inefficient mechanics. I don’t prefer to use the word mechanics anymore, because “mechanics” sounds too robotic. Instead, I talk about creating better and smoother movements with my clients, using an athletic approach geared towards efficient lower and upper body sequencing. The pictures below are the finishes of just a few current and past MLB pitchers that have sustained season ending arm injuries.
Carter Capps – Florida Marlins (2016 TJS), Jarrod Parker – Oakland A’s (2010 TJS, 2014 TJS, 2015 fractured elbow), Phil Hughes – (2016 Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) and John Smoltz – Atlanta Braves, (2000 TJS). John Smoltz is the only pitcher, in the history of baseball, to have Tommy John surgery and be in the MLB Hall of Fame.
When I evaluate a overhead thrower, I look at the position he or she gets into when their front foot hits the ground “foot strike”. If the the upper body, glove side is flying open, it puts a tremendous amount of stress on the shoulder and elbow. Most of the time these pitchers are using their arm to generate power through the pitch which can lead to excess stress and major injuries. Steven Strasburg and Dan Winkler are two pitchers that have been sidelined with injuries because they let their glove side fly open when or before their foot strike.
Hip strength and flexibility are essential for getting your body into a good position and to throw harder. In the video below I will explain proper trunk rotation to maximize hip-shoulder separation into Thoracic Extension. Thoracic extension is the ability of the upper back musculature to shorten, thus allowing extension. The arms just go along for the ride. This helps the glove side, upper body stay closed and inhibits early shoulder rotation. Many baseball pitchers struggle to gain the last few inches of hip rotation largely due to little or no thoracic extension incorporated into the throw. Commonly their posture/spine angle is too far forward prior to foot strike, which results from the front toe being aligned with the back toe.
Front Side Pitching Example: Before & After
The two videos below are a before and after of a Baseball Rebellion Client, Logan Jarosz, a 16 yr old Sophomore committed to Georgia tech. His throwing velocity has gone from 80 mph to averaging 91 mph and touching 94 mph. In the first video, watch how his glove stops for a split second before finishing the pitch, which was stopping his momentum during his follow through. In the second video he gains more momentum down the mound which translates into a smooth and effortless finish.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Front Side Mechanics are an important topic that can be taught in a much simple manner to kids of all ages. Feel free to ask me any questions or leave comments below! Thanks for reading!
Pitchers, How & Why to add an “Old School” Leg Kick to your Delivery!
There are a few points in a pitchers delivery that can be looked at as being the most important. Most pitching instructors would agree that the momentum a pitcher creates down the mound is top on the list. There are many common flaws that are associated with the first move of a pitching delivery. The biggest flaw taught by many coaches today is “sitting into the back leg.” They call this the load. It’s the beginning of a progression that ends with a push off the rubber. I believe the “Old School Windup” is the part of baseball that has changed the most. The movements of the pitcher have become, in my eyes, “Lazy”. The athleticism of the pitching delivery does not exist anymore. Sure, pitchers today have strong athletic body types for the most part, but fail to use their movements properly. What do I mean by this? Easily put, “Old School” pitchers were stronger through their deliveries.
In this article I will teach you a Baseball Rebellion Drill to create better lower half movement, increase throwing velocity, and develop a repeatable motion for effectiveness on the mound.
The Problem in modern Pitching Mechanics
The problem with the way pitching has been taught for the last 30 years has to do with the growing number of kids in the sport. Mechanics are hard to teach, especially with a large number kids. Many coaches think if kids have too much movement in their pitching delivery and that they will tire out too quickly. They claim the movements are unnecessary to throw hard. Too many major league pitchers movements support their claim. Below are Three examples of pitchers with little to no momentum in the first phase of the delivery. The first video shows Chris Sale, one of the top pitchers in the MLB sitting into into his back leg. A common flaw on how to create drive down the mound. In the second video Dan Winkler of the Atlanta Braves leads toward his the catcher with his elbow and creates an inverted W. His lower half energy flawed because of the movement of his upper body. In the third video little leaguer Christopher Harbert is forced to throw sidearm due to the mechanics of his front half. His arm swing is smooth but the motion of his glove side and front leg pulling open hurt his arm angle & finish. All 3 are affective with their mechanics but will suffer command,repeatability and the health of their arms.
I believe that a pitcher should work hard and be tired after they pitch, especially starts. I want them to become physically exhausted from using their entire body to throw the ball pitch after pitch. I train kids in phases from upper body smoothness to their full wind up leg kick. The better students with our movements, the faster and more powerful the movements become. Once you begin to master the movements of your delivery, you can begin to master your velocity potential. In my experience so far with private instruction, I have found that kids are very capable of learning quickly and using more athleticism in every part of the throw. Working harder This is true with my online clients, in person lessons, and in a camp setting.
Recently I have been researching how to create better momentum of the lower half and utilize my pitchers leg kick to get distance down the mound. I have a few drills that start at the intermediate level and work up to the Full Windup. This drill is a simple yet affective way to train to drive your hips forward, maximizing momentum and staying down the hill, as long as possible, building a foundation of natural athletic movements. Again this video is all about how you can make the Baseball Rebellion way of pitching your own. I want my pitchers to be comfortable, creating a powerful, fast, and healthy delivery.
Pitching Drill: Leg Kick With Barriers
The Leg Kick With Barriers, pitching drill helps create rhythm, timing and the ability to build an efficient delivery that allows you to constantly repeat your delivery. Having the body and arm supported by all the parts working together we produce a healthier product through the throw. Creating speed down the mound, our body stays in motion which eliminates arm drag and a more efficient pitch.
Nolan Ryan’s 1979 Leg Kick. Notice his back leg drive down the mound combined with a smooth upper body.
Build Your Own Leg Kick Barrier
11yr Old doing the Leg Kick with Barriers Pitching Drill!!
Above is 11 year old Joey Chitla. He has been in the Baseball Rebellion program for six weeks and continues to improve as a pitcher and become more confident every lesson. Joey’s athletic ability comes out in this video as he drives his lower half over the Leg Kick Barrier and stays calm in his upper half to deliver a smooth aggressive pitch. The sound you hear in the back round at the end of the video is joey throwing a strike at a Tap Control Builder Target “our new target combined with a pitchers pocket”.
Have fun with constructing your own Leg kick barrier and incorporating an “old school” leg kick into your pitching delivery. Thanks for reading my article, and I hope you enjoyed learning a cool and effective pitching drill to help your lower half energy.
-Dave Shinskie, Leader of the Baseball Pitching Rebellion
This article is about a very popular exercise used in strength and conditioning programs for throwers, and how it can be manipulated to be substantially better and more functional in terms of shoulder strengthening.
Shoulder External Rotation
The exercise I am referring to is shoulder external rotation. The most common forms done are side-lying at 0 degrees abduction and standing with the humerus at 90 degrees abduction. External rotation is a very important position in the throwing motion to be strong and stable in. As the hips start to open and you move into thoracic extension, your shoulder begins its lay back into external rotation. Usually, the greater stretch you can create between your upper and lower body and the better lay back you get at the shoulder, the harder you will throw. Increased dissociation between the upper and lower body will create a longer delay which in turn allows your arm to lay back further into external rotation. By default velocity goes up.
The problem is that by only doing external rotation at 90 degrees, you’re only hitting the muscles that externally rotate the humeral head at that cross section. So essentially, you’re strengthening one portion of the muscle at one angle. So what about the other angles? At Baseball Rebellion, our throwing programs implement shoulder external rotation exercises from 0 degrees all the way to 120 degrees of shoulder abduction. We start off at 0 degrees, then go to 30, 60, 90, and 120. This assures us that we aren’t just strengthening one cross section of muscle fibers that externally rotate the shoulder (90 degree cross section), we’re Strengthening those muscles at 5 different angles.
Another reason why Baseball Rebellion’s 5 way external rotation is a better approach to doing external rotation is that not all throwers get into external rotation at 90 degrees (ideally you want to but not every thrower does). In a perfect world, where everyone’s mechanics are correct, doing external rotation exercises at one angle may suffice. But as most people are aware, a good majority of throwers are not using their body optimally. I’m not going to get into the mechanics of throwing in great detail because that isn’t the aim of this article. I’m not advocating improper throwing mechanics either but if you’re going to do external rotation exercises you might as well do them at these 5 different angles so you can strengthen your posterior rotator cuff where your arm actually externally rotates in your throwing motion.
Below I’m going to go over how to do them with a video demonstration at the end.
0 degrees abduction– line yourself up parallel with your attachment point and externally rotate with your arm at your side.
30 degrees abduction– line yourself up at a 45 degree angle from the attachment site with your humerus (upper arm) on the same plane with the attachment site. Abduct the shoulder 30 degrees then go into external rotation.
60 degrees abduction– line yourself up at a 45 degree angle from the attachment site with your humerus (upper arm) on the same plane with the attachment site. Abduct the shoulder 60 degrees then go into external rotation.
90 degrees abduction– line yourself up at a 45 degree angle from the attachment site with your humerus (upper arm) on the same plane with the attachment site. Abduct the shoulder 90 degrees then go into external rotation.
120 degrees abduction– line yourself up at a 45 degree angle from the attachment site with your humerus (upper arm) on the same plane with the attachment site. Abduct the shoulder 30 degrees then go into external rotation.
In an era where shoulder health in baseball is heavily preached and shoulder maintenance protocols are very prevalent, why not approach how you strengthen your rotator cuff muscles from a more practical standpoint? If you strengthen at one angle, you’re only going to get stronger at that angle. So here are 4 extra angles you can use to improve the health of your shoulder.
Thank you for reading my article, and comment below with any questions or comments you have on Shoulder External Rotation!
KC Judge – Director of Sports Performance at Baseball Rebellion
Once upon a time I used to have the words “ball foot to ball foot” as my screensaver on my computer. At the time, I was a freshman at George Washington University trying to earn my place in the pitching program. I had a habit of locking out my front knee at landing, making it difficult to repeat my delivery. To remedy locking out my knee, my pitching coach taught me to drive off the ball of my foot (right leg) and land on the ball of my foot (left leg) to get my chest out over my knee and develop a consistent release point. Six months later, I was a Freshman-All American and led the team in wins, strikeouts, and ERA. I believed landing ball foot to ball foot was the answer to my personal success.
Shortly thereafter, I developed knee pain and I slowly transitioned to landing more on my heel. The pain seemed to go away, and I stayed the course with landing more consistently on my heel. The weight distribution at foot strike/landing, transitions from the heel to the ball of the foot, with the weight/force never getting to the toe. At 19 years old, I couldn’t tell you how much of a difference either landing on my heel or ball of my foot mattered, I just chose whatever led to positive results.
Twelve years later, I can definitively tell you that both teaching and practicing landing on the heel can have a significant impact on the development of a pitcher. I wanted to write this article for two reasons. First, over the course my teaching career I have seen how valuable landing on the heel can be to the transition of force into a throw. Second, there is still an overwhelming number of my students who are being taught and forced to land on the ball of the foot.
Throughout this article, I will show you examples of landing both on the heel and the ball of the foot. Provide examples of other sports where athletes use the heel to create energy and stability and breakdown the advantages to a thrower and coaches by landing on the heel of the foot. Lets start by looking at some examples of pitchers landing on the heel of their foot.
Video: Heel landing
The video clip below highlights myself and students landing on the heel of the foot.
Video: Ball foot landing
The video clip below highlights one of my students and two professionals who land on the ball of the foot.
Why should you land on the heel?
Learning from other sports
Chas always talks about dunking. The guy loves basketball and every year on his birthday, HE DUNKS! Impressive actually, but when I told him I was planning on writing this article, he instantly referenced how a basketball player moves his body to dunk a basketball. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, watch Chas dunk on his birthday!
As both Nate Robinson and Michael Jordan prepare to elevate their bodies towards the rim, they first create forward energy towards the target. As they prepare to jump, their bodies essentially fall into the ground, with the lead heel making contact first. The energy created from the forward movement transitions into the ground and back up into the lower legs and hips. Potential energy is stored through the leg, and then released as the body extends upwards towards the target.
The pitching delivery operates in a very similar manner. The lower half of the pitcher moves down the slope of the mound, creating a forwards energy. As the hips begin to rotate open towards the target, the front leg gets out in front of the upper body. The heel touches down and begins to drive force/energy back into glutes and hips. The landing of the heel in the delivery allows the pelvis to stabilize. The sequence provides enough time for the upper torso to continue to build energy and rotate into the final release of energy into the baseball.
Pole Vaulting: Anchor of stability
I’ve always found pole vaulting fascinating and scary at the same time. When I watched the clip above, I was amazed at who similar the characteristics of the action of vaulting over the bar were to throwing a baseball. A pole vaulter runs forward with the pole creating energy. As the pole is cast forward, it must securely anchor into the box. The stability at one end of the pole allows potential energy to be stored through the elasticity of the pole. The energy is finally released as the body is hurled upwards and over the bar. Think about how far in front of the vaulter the pole extends, once the pole is anchored into the box, the pole bends until it snaps back vertical releasing the vaulter at the apex. The arm operates exactly the same. A pitcher needs to get the heel out in from of the body and increase the amount of distance from the heel to the baseball. The stability of the heel landing promotes the arm to externally rotate with the support of the trunk and then accelerate forwards with the mass of the trunk to maintain support.
Changes in the pitching delivery
The analysis below highlights the changes in the pitching delivery by simply landing on the heel of ball of the foot. I wanted to make sure I performed both landings in the same bullpen with the same delivery. The only thing I changed is telling myself to land on the heel or the ball of the foot. See the results below.
Time for a change?
If your pitching delivery resembles anything similar the clip above, you are ready for an overhaul. I could only manage 5 throws demonstrating what NOT TO DO before the back of my shoulder felt signs of locking up. But for some reason, many coaches will teach exactly what I’m doing above. A bit of UP, Down, & Out mixed in with a ball foot landing; what an unhealthy combination. Sadly, many young pitchers still resemble the pattern seen above because coaches in the community preach similar mechanics.
One “HEEL” of a difference
If you are ready to make a change, I suggest you simply start by knowing it’s OK and advantageous to try to land on your heel every time you throw a baseball. The result can dramatically improve how your body transitions into the release of the baseball. The student above is shown throwing out of his Rivera Drill. By landing on his heel he has drastically improved his overall stretch angle (how well the body is producing force) and in the process has significantly improved his velocity, accuracy, and ability to recover. You can experience similar results starting with a new landing!
-Justin Orenduff, Leader of the Pitching Rebellion